Monday, November 18, 2013


It began in 1949.  Bakers throughout America entered Pillsbury's Grand National Bake-Off.  One hundred finalists joined together at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to compete for $100,000 in prizes and the title "Cook of the Year."

On November 11, 2013 the 46th Annual Bake-Off was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and well known TV chef, Padma Lakshmi, announced the winner.  Her prize was $1 Million for her Loaded Potato Pinwheels.  Times have certainly changed in the Bake-Off contest.  Although it is still required that  Pillsbury/General Mills products be used in the recipes, the products today are manufactured food products rather than just Pillsbury flour which was the primary ingredient used in 1949.

For those of you who don't know of  Pillsbury, it began in 1872 in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Charles Pillsbury and his uncle, John Pillsbury.  At the time, its rival was General Mills, which subsequently purchased the company in 2001.    "Pillsbury" is now a brand name used by the General Mills Company which is still based in Minneapolis, and which is among the largest food producers in the world.

Tonight is the annual Bake Sale by the Garden Club of Ramsey County.  To commemorate the Bake-Off, my contribution to the bake sale is a recipe out of this Pillsbury book, copyright 1959:

The recipe I chose, "Cocoa-Pink Cuplets" was from Mrs. Robert Hoefer, Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Cocoa-Pink Cuplets
Bake at 375º for 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen.
Sift together:
*  2 cups sifted Pillsbury's Best All Purpose Flour
*  1 tablespoon cocoa and
*  1 teaspoon salt.  Set aside.
*  1-1/4 cups sugar gradually to
*  3/4 cup shortening, creaming well.
Blend in:
*  2 unbeaten eggs and
*  1 teaspoon vanilla
*  1 teaspoon soda and
*  1 cup cold water.  Add alternately with the dry ingredients to creamed mixture.  Blend well after each addition.
Fill muffin cups, lined with paper baking cups, half full.
*  1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces and
*  1/2 cup nuts, chopped, over cupcake batter.
Bake at 375º for 20 to 25 minutes.

"Sifting" the dry ingredients.
 Creaming the sugar and shortening.
 All assembled for baking.
 All ready to eat (or to take to the Bake Sale!!).

Friday, November 8, 2013


A good friend of mine has been making cold brewed coffee for years and I have always enjoyed having coffee at her home.  For ages I've been saying that I'm going to start making coffee her way and I finally did! Now I will never go back to hot drip coffee; cold brewed is significantly more smooth (non-acidic), and has a deep coffee flavor.

To begin, I went to and bought the "Toddy Cold Brew System" which cost about $35 with extra filters.

The Toddy System comes with the white brew container, 2 rubber plugs for the bottom of the brew container, the carafe and its lid.
 The System that I purchased also came with extra filters.

Of course, coffee should be made to taste and if you try out this system (which I hope you will!), you will want to adjust the amounts of coffee and water to suit your own taste.  Here is my "recipe."

1.  Place the plug in the bottom outside of the Toddy brewing container.
2.  Place the filter in the bottom inside of the container.
3.  Into the container pour one cup of fresh cold water.
4.  Coarsely grind just under 3 cups of coffee.  We use Kirkland/Costco brand coffee.  Pour the coffee into the container, gently leveling out the top.
5.  Gently and slowly drizzle 3 cups of fresh cold water over the coffee grounds in a circular manner, wetting the entire surface.
6.  Coarsely grind another slight 3 cups of coffee and pour it into the container, gently leveling out the top.
7.  Wait 5 minutes, then gently and slowly drizzle 4 cups of fresh cold water over the coffee grounds.

Here is what it will look like:

8.  Leave this on your countertop and wait 24 hours for the coffee to steep.
9.  Remove the lid from the carafe and place the brew container just above the carafe, pull the plug from the bottom of the brew container in order for the coffee to drip into the carafe.   It will take about an hour for all of the coffee to drip into the carafe.

Here the water has run out of the brew container, leaving only the grounds.  These go into my garden beds!

The coffee now in the carafe is actually a coffee CONCENTRATE.  To make coffee from the concentrate pour about 1/4 cup of the concentrate into your coffee cup, then add boiling water to the concentrate for a rich, flavorful cup of coffee.  I have found that one carafe of the concentrate makes about 32 cups of coffee.
Here are some of the benefits of cold brewed coffee:
1.  It's about 67% less acidic than hot brewed coffee, and you can distinctly notice the difference.
2.  The coffee has a deep, rich flavor.
3.  Making coffee for me is a once-a-week endeavor rather than a daily production.
4.  My husband drinks fully caffeinated coffee and I drink decaf.  Making a carafe of decaf for me and a carafe of caffeinated for him means we are both drinking the coffee we prefer, no compromises.
Thus, the Toddy cold brew system gets four thumbs up in this family!